Letter Re: First Hand Account from New Orleans

The following comes to us from a SurvivalBlog reader who was deployed with a WMD/Hazmat Team to New Orleans, very soon after the hurricane struck. Cellular phone difficulties and 15+ hour work days kept him from making reports to SurvivalBlog as he had originally planned.

I’m very sorry that I couldn’t make contact [while there] and keep you all up to date with the Katrina Deployment.

I rotated out of New Orleans yesterday and made it home it time for my daughter’s 16th birthday. Quite an emotional ride, to say the least.

Katrina…wow…First I want to say thanks to those who supported my WMD team and continue to do so. Emotions ran very high. We have recovered several human remains (“HRs”) and identified (“IDed”) several of these. I was a Strike Team leader composed of 8-10 individuals varying each day on our operations (“OPS”). I was privileged to have a Chaplain embedded with us on several recovery’s. For each set of HRs, a simple prayer was given:
“Lord, We give thanks for this man’s life.
We give thanks that he was found.
We give thanks for those that found him.
We ask that he may be made whole in God’s arms.
And that he knows peace, Amen”

We treated these individuals with the dignity and respect they so deserve.

An interesting aspect of this was the attempt to make some comparisons to movies and the “Hollywood” aspects. Let’s take Mad Max, Escape From New York, The Day After Tomorrow, and Soylent Green, rolling these together into real life. Now take the Hollywood out of it–and you have New Orleans.

These people have lost everything….the infrastructure is gone…no phones except for cellular, if and when the towers, (portable), work. Radio communications are less than good and operate under the most austere conditions. Electricity in some parts is coming back. Its interesting to see a city of that magnitude highlighted by only a few lights.

Now for the individuals who decided to be less than friendly…those individuals were met by an equal or greater force, subsequently neutralized and the OPS continued. Enough said!

People turned into animals. I found it interesting that an individual who was “displaced” was given an MRE to eat…His reply was, “I don’t want this stuff, I want real food.” Amazing enough, most all of the participants of this recovery process were eating MREs, or Heater Meals either some or most of the time. This wasn’t good enough for this individual, but it was for those who were helping…An interesting factor.

I guess from watching the TV most all saw the looting and destruction to the city and homes caused by a few lawless dregs…these are the types that we will face if and when another catastrophic event might occur…Enough said.

The AO is an environmental nightmare. Water is beyond polluted, testing high in most diseases we don’t want to think about. Hand washing was/is a continuous task.

Hopefully I can sit down and write some more after a few days of decompression. Please remember my team-mates [still in New Orleans] in your prayers, as their task is demanding. If you care to assist in their “creature comforts”, drop an e-mail to me…I’ll supply the address. [JWR Adds: I’ll be happy to forward your e-mails–just include “For R.K.’s Team” in the message header.]

Be safe and pray that we never have to endure an incident such as this, because it could have been the beginning of the end. – R.K.